The fans at Yankee Stadium booed louder than they have even for Giancarlo Stanton this month immediately after top prospect Gleyber Torres flied out in the eighth inning on Sunday, the fourth consecutive time he was retired in his highly anticipated major-league debut.
The Bronx crowd was not at all unhappy with Torres, of course, just the umpiring crew for what appeared to be one of the most egregious replay decisions ever to go against the Yankees earlier in that inning, when Tyler Austin clearly appeared safe crossing the bag.
“I think he got that, yeah. We’ll make sure he knows,” Aaron Boone joked after the game.
Torres actually received nothing but love from a fan base that eagerly has awaited his arrival as the next phase of their youth movement, even after the 21-year-old struck out in his first at-bat. An 0-for-4 showing with seven runners left on base in his first game in pinstripes — a 5-1 victory over Toronto — couldn’t dampen his or the Yankees’ enthusiasm over his first appearance at the Stadium.
“I feel happy for that, the fans gave me a good (feeling) and I enjoyed the moment,” Torres said afterward. “I expected to win the game, help my team and enjoy the opportunity and my first time in the big leagues.”
Before the game, Torres had estimated that he slept barely “three or four” hours Saturday night after arriving in town following his official recall from Triple-A Scranton. He immediately was thrust into the Yanks’ lineup at second base, batting eighth, one spot behind hot-hitting fellow rookie Miguel Andujar, who notched four more hits in Sunday’s win.
Torres, a natural shortstop who underwent Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow last season, also had been playing both second and third base this season in the minors.
“I’m happy and super-excited,” Torres said before the game. “I never put pressure (on myself), I try to be the same person every day and just play my game.
“I feel comfortable in all positions and the most important thing is to help my team at any position and any opportunity.”
With infielders Tyler Wade (optioned to Scranton) and Neil Walker off to rough starts offensively and Brandon Drury still on the disabled list with migraines and blurry vision, Torres is expected to continue to man second following a scorching start (.347) at Triple-A.
“I think you all realize how much we value him as a player short-term and certainly for our future,” Boone said. “The one great thing about Gleyber is his defensive versatility… One of the reasons he’s so valued is because he is a legitimate defender at all three spots. But I would say generally speaking, the plan is for him to be at second.”
Wearing No. 25 after sporting No. 81 in spring training, Torres handled cleanly his two defensive chances on Sunday, including starting an inning-ending double play in the sixth.
He even received a standing ovation when he came to the plate for the first time with runners on second and third and one out in the second.
Veteran lefty Jaime Garcia got Torres to chase a few off-speed pitches in that initial plate appearance, taking full advantage of the rookie’s desire to make a strong first impression.
“First at-bat, I thought he was really anxious, really excited, you could tell, just the nerves and kind of jumping out there pretty hard,” Boone said. “But he really settled in and his next two at-bats, with runners on out there again, he controlled the zone a little better…and laid off some pitches that you know they wanted him to chase. Steps in the right direction.”
Stanton, who heard boos again after striking out in the sixth inning of an 0-for-4 showing, was impressed with Torres’ approach and talent after spending time together during spring training.
“He’s going to be good, man. He’s good already,” Stanton said. “I think we all have those moments for our first couple of years. You’re still finding yourself, still finding what type of player you are and what type of hitter you are.
“And you’re hyped up. You’ve got everyone in your phone hitting you up. It’s hard not to. But once you get in-between the lines, it should settle down, at least after the first at-bat, maybe.”
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